Emily Bates has become just the second AFLW player to scoop all three major end-of-season awards in the same year.
- Bates won the peer-voted award ahead of the Kangaroos’ Ash Riddell and Richmond’s Mon Conti
- Erin Phillips is the only other AFLW player to win the league, AFLCA and AFLPA awards in a season
- Daisy Pearce was recognized as best captain for the fourth time
Having already been named the league’s best and fairest, and the coaches’ association’s (AFLCA) MVP, Brisbane’s Bates on Wednesday night received the MVP award from the players’ association (AFLPA).
Just a day after she clinched the competition’s best and fairest title, the Lions vice-captain was voted player of the year by her peers with 286 votes.
Prolific North Melbourne ball-winner Ash Riddell (256 votes) and Richmond’s Mon Conti (164) rounded out the top three.
Adelaide champion Erin Phillips is the only other player to have won all three awards, performing the feat in 2019.
Lions coach Craig Starcevich said Bates’s string of braces would “cement her right at the top” of the competition.
“When Emily started … she was already accomplished but perhaps in the shadows of some of the bigger names and Victorian-based midfielders,” he told the AFLPA website.
“She’s always searching for an edge, or looking to improve herself … she’s never [been] complacent.”
Starcevich also praised Bates’s leadership qualities, which were on display in the Lions’ grand final triumph over Adelaide in 2021.
“She’s not a demonstrative leader with words. She’s more of a lead-by-example [type], [with her] training work ethic and holding high standards,” he said.
The 26-year-old became the first Brisbane Lions AFLW player to win the award, joining men’s players Lachie Neale (2020), Michael Voss (2002, 2003) and Paul Roos (1986) for Fitzroy.
Players endorse Pearce’s leadership ahead of first grand final
Melbourne’s Daisy Pearce (137 votes), meanwhile, was voted the competition’s best captain for the fourth time, ahead of Fremantle’s Hayley Miller (92 votes).
Pearce has been given the nod in four of the five seasons she has been eligible, runner-up only to Ellie Blackburn last year and missing one season due to the birth of her twins.
Rumored to be retiring at the end of the season, Pearce has one more shot at a premiership when her side takes on the Crows in Adelaide on Saturday.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a better captain than Daisy at any level of football,” teammate Shelley Heath told the AFLPA.
Heath said Pearce, who is being headhunted by several AFL clubs for a coaching role, acts as “essentially another coach on the ground” during games.
Heading into Saturday’s decider, Heath credited Pearce for inspiring the Demons to the last game of the season.
“Whatever happens next, happens. But that’s in the future. If she’s going in, we’re all going in.”
Bulldog named most courageous, players vote rising Sun best rookie
The Western Bulldogs’ Kirsty Lamb was nominated by her peers as the competition’s most courageous with 107 votes, well ahead of Collingwood’s Jaimee Lambert and Tahlia Randall (29 votes each).
Recognized with a maiden All-Australian selection in 2022, Lamb is the first player other than perennial favorite and three-time winner Chelsea Randall and Kiara Bowers (2020) to win the award.
The Bulldog hard nut averaged a career-high 18.7 disposals in 2022.
Meanwhile, Gold Coast’s Charlie Rowbottom, after finishing one vote behind Carlton’s Mimi Hill for the Rising Star at the W Awards, took home the AFLPA’s best first-year player award.
The players went with Rowbottom (118) ahead of Georgie Prespakis (88) and Eliza West (49).
Selected with the number one draft pick by Gold Coast, Rowbottom averaged the most disposals of any first-year player (15.7), and more than six tackles and three clearances per game.